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Recent house fires prompts warning about space heaters

ST. LOUIS – With temperatures dipping low, experts are cautioning homeowners about the dangerous and deadly threats surrounding space heaters.

Just this week, 15 city residents had to learn the hard way.

Fire officials said that while no one was injured, the common culprit was linked to improper use of space heaters.

“It’s really a good idea to keep a close eye on them,” said Captain Garron Mosby, St. Louis Fire Department.

Mosby said all three fires—on N. Sarah, Lee, and Cora—were attributed to unattended portable heaters.

Mosby said that even with improved manufacturing, space heaters can pose a deadly threat.

“One of the more unfortunate fatalities I have seen was a space heater where an individual covered the space heater with a blanket,” Mosby said.

“These portable heaters draw a tremendous amount of electrical current, people will run them under rugs, or they keep them too close to things like bedding.”

According to David Roth, treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1, the heating devices are not the main issue, rather it’s the way they are operated.

“We feel strongly that we want to protect this community,” Roth said. “You’re not supposed to use anything other than the cord supplied with the heater to the (wall) receptacle.”

Both experts pointed that the more modern the heating device the better, especially if it comes with the UL Underwriter Laboratory Safety tag.

For example, heaters and extension cords don’t mix.

“These cords are just used for light duty and not be used for any kind of heavy loads,” Roth said.

Mosby also said that during this holiday season, it’s a good reminder to water your live, in home Christmas tree as the dry pine needles, coupled with lit holiday lights, can cause a fire to erupt.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with heating this winter, contact HeatUpStLouis.org. For additional electrical safety tips, visit ElectricalConnection.org.